Lesson 2) Offensive Combinations and Casting Theory

Welcome back. I hope that you all have your notes from the previous lesson, because we will be expanding those ideas and continuing to flesh out Combination Spellcasting. That said, let’s not waste time today - so much time, so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that; reverse it.

Combination Spellcasting - Important Terms

Before we get too involved in Offensive Combination Spellcasting, there are a few terms that we need to cover, simply because they will help enhance future discussions about the types of spells and how they work together in the combination. Below is a list of terms; after that, I will discuss each term in a little more detail.

Combination Spellcasting Terminology

Base - The first spell cast in the combination.
Modifier - Spell(s) used to strengthen the Base.
Lure - Spells used to distract the opponent
Stinger - Offensive spell(s) in a combination
Barrier - Defensive spell(s) in a combination
Ultimo - The final spell cast in a combination

Base: The base of a combination is the initial spell that is cast. This is the spell upon which the entire combination is built. In my opinion, this spell is the most important spell of the combination because it sets the tone for the type of combination that you will be casting. If you start a combination with the Stunning Spell (a spell we will be learning later this year), it is safe to say that you are casting an Offensive Combination; if you start the combination with the Shielding Charm or the Smokescreen Spell, you are likely casting a Defensive Combination. While Offensive and Defensive Combinations do go hand in hand, the way combinations are talked about, and the way they are viewed, is typically set by the first spell cast in the combination. If you think about nothing else, always consider how you want to start a combination - it might just be the spell that saves your life.

Modifier: Otherwise known as a Combination Modifier, these spells are a little more specific. In terms of a combination, a Modifier is a separate spell that is used to specifically enhance the Base of the combination. In this course, most often the Modifier will be applied to a Defensive Combination. This is because the spells we will use in an Offensive Combination will frequently be static spells that can be cast without any continued effort, and therefore have nothing to build upon. One of the best examples of the utilization of Modifiers is during the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998. An extremely strong Shielding Charm was raised around Hogwarts in order to protect it from Voldemort’s forces. Once the shield was raised, professors, and other trained witches and wizards, were placed strategically around the castle grounds and cast several Modifiers, including spells like Savlia Hexia. We will get more in-depth with some of the Modifiers for the Shielding Charm during Year Six.

Please be aware that a Combination Modifier is different from a Spell Modifier. The Modifier described above is a spell entirely on its own - it is not a variant of a different spell with a unique ending (ex. The Wand Lighting Charm, which has Spell Modifiers of Maxima, Solem, Numerosa, etc.). A spell Modifier is a spell that works best when applied to a Base - for example, enhancing the Shielding Charm with the Muggle-Repelling Charm.

Lure: This spell is typically used as a distraction. When using a Lure in a combination, you are attempting to move or divert your opponent’s attention elsewhere. These are typically offensive spells, such as the Reductor Curse, but can be any spell used to distract your opponent in order to get an attack in while they aren’t expecting it.

Stinger: The Stinger is quite appropriately named, since its entire purpose in the combination is to cause harm or to “sting” your opponent. Any offensive spell cast in the combination with the intent to cause harm can be called a Stinger.

Barrier: The opposite of a Stinger, a Barrier is any spell that is utilized to defend yourself or to put something between yourself and your opponent. When considering Barriers, many people utilize their Transfiguration skills to create a barrier from something else. One example of a barrier that was discussed in your First Year of Transfiguration was the Glass to Sand Shield. Also, in opposition to a Stinger, this category can be both offensive and defensive, and has a little more flexibility, since there are many spells that can be used to defend yourself in a combat situation - the only limit is your creativity.

Ultimo: The Ultimo is the final spell that is cast in any combination. This spell can realistically be any spell. Some Duelers, especially professionals, like to cast Ultimos that give the combination a creative end - a little bit of flair, if you will. These types of Ultimos are usually only used in competitive dueling and will rarely be seen when in a real combat situation. In a real situation, you usually want to save the spell that you believe will end the duel for this spot. Spells like the Stunning Spell and the Disarming Charm are excellent Ultimos, since these spells will usually render your opponent incapable of continuing the duel.

One important fact that I hope you have noticed through these explanations is that some spells in a combination will fit several of these categories. To demonstrate an application of these concepts, let’s look at the combination I alluded to in Year Four and began to discuss last lesson. To defeat an Erkling, you must cast a spell to keep it in place, and then cast the Orbis Jinx. For this example, I will use the Levitation Charm in combination with the Orbis Jinx.

  • The Levitation Charm
    • Base: This spell is the first spell in this combination of two spells. It is upon this spell that the entire combination is based.
  • The Orbis Jinx
    • Stinger: This spell serves the purpose of harming the Erkling with the goal of defeating it.
    • Ultimo: This spell is the last spell used in the combination and is used with the intention of ending the combat.

As we get further into the year, and progress into your N.E.W.T. level studies, the combinations will become even more complex. For this term, I want you to focus on using no more than three spells in a combination. This will give you plenty of practice in thinking strategically about how you cast spells without the risk of you becoming magically exhausted.

Offensive Combinations

This term, we will be focusing particularly on Offensive Combinations. Offensive Combinations have the ability to either be purely Offensive, where you are only casting spells with the intent to harm or disarm your opponent, or Offensive/Defensive, a subcategory of Offensive Combination that includes Defensive spells. To fall under the umbrella term of “Offensive Combination,” you must have an offensive spell as the Base. For example, if I wanted to cast an offensive combination I might cast the Jelly-Legs Jinx in order to cause my opponent to be unsteady on their feet. I then have the ability to cast any spell that I believe will work to a greater effect with the Jelly-Legs Jinx. I could give you examples, but that question will be the prompt for your Combination Journal today.

Staying with the example of the Jelly-Legs Jinx, there is also the potential to cast the subcategory of Offensive combination, which is an Offensive/Defensive combination. As the name suggests, this type of combination is one that has an offensive spell as a Base, but is used in order to buy time to defend yourself. In this type of combination, you might cast the Jelly-Legs Jinx in order to cause your opponent to be unsteady so you can have time to successfully cast the Smokescreen Spell and create a thick enough smoke that you will be concealed. This type of combination is not as frequently used, since it is less common to go on the offensive to cast defensively; people who choose to cast Offensive Combinations in order to defend usually are applying the motto “The best defense is a strong offense.” To phrase it another way, most people who use an offensive spell as a Base are defending themselves by making sure their opponent is always on the defensive.

As with all combinations, you not only want to think about the Base, but also the Ultimo. In an Offensive Combination, the goal is typically to end the duel and win it. Therefore, you want to think about what spells you might utilize that would be effective to end a combination. Some of the more popular ones are the Stunning Spell, the Disarming Charm, and the Full-Body Bind Curse; that said, any spell can be applied as long as you have considered how it works in conjunction with the previous spells. During a training exercise, I once saw a recruit to the auror program use the Freezing Charm as their Ultimo. They won the duel with that spell, if you were curious.

Wand Movements

During the next lesson, we will begin discussing different offensive spells and looking at how they can be used in combination with each other. As with each term so far, we will briefly discuss the components of spellcasting that you should be more than familiar with. We will not be discussing them in detail as we have in previous years, simply because I am now expecting you to be able to think through each of the necessary elements on your own. I will describe the effects of each spell and give you the basics that you will need to successfully cast the spell, but further detail will have to be filled out on your own time.

One of the components that will be covered is the necessary wand movement. When trying to cast a spell, you need to focus and channel the magic into a physical form; you literally are drawing the magical energy out of you and focusing it into the physical world through the incantation and the wand movement. The more complex the spell, the more complex the wand movement. If you think back to the first spells that you learned in this course - the Wand-Lighting Charm, the Verdimillious Charm, and the Revealing Charm - each of these spells had relatively simple wand movements because their effects were simple. It does not require a lot of focus to light the tip of your wand or to create sparks.

When we moved into Year Two and started learning basic offensive spells that affected larger targets, and with effects that were more difficult to complete, the wand movements became more complex, since they required more physical movement to assist in the focusing of the magical energy. At the time, you required the movement because your minds were not yet trained enough to provide the necessary concentration to power the spell alone.

Now that we are approaching your O.W.L. exams, and you have four full years of magical training under your belt, it is time that you start learning how to cast spells with less dependence on the wand movement. When you are in a combat situation, it can be extremely inconvenient to have to complete a full, complex wand movement. Therefore, as part of your practice for your exams at the end of this term, I want you to begin practicing the spells we have learned thus far, casting each of them without the full wand movement. By your final examination, you should be capable of casting a spell with no action further than pointing your wand at the intended target.

To accomplish this, you will need to concentrate much harder than you did when you first started casting the spell. Many of you may find that simple spells, even spells like the Wand-Lighting Charm, are now more difficult and even seem impossible to cast. It is a matter of training your mind and keeping it entirely focused on the task at hand; you will find this easier if you have kept up with the meditation that we learned in Year Two (or any other techniques that you have found that work for you. As mentioned, I personally do yoga every morning).

Do not be discouraged if you do not get this immediately - I will not downgrade you if you are incapable of casting spells without a wand movement, but it will be to your advantage to perfect the ability. Today there will be an extra credit opportunity that will allow you to describe your practice with several simple spells.

With that, I will leave you to work on your assignments for this week.

Hatari kufukuzwa kazi

Defense Against the Dark Arts Year Five takes your education to a new level as we prepare for you O.W.L. examinations. We begin to cover offensive spell theory, covering concepts such as the structure of Combination Spellcasting, the technique and practice behind casting without the wand movement, spells that are most commonly cast offensively, and creatures that require offensive tactics in order to defend yourself against. We also will be covering more practical information that delves into the background of what we are learning. By the end of this term, you will be ready to sit your O.W.L. examinations. Enroll